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KG on his Celtics: ‘It’s accountability, man’ 01.21.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  If Kevin Garnett is indeed cleared to play Friday against Portland by the Celtics’ medical staff and head coach Doc Rivers, the team might be getting the kick in the pants a lot of observers – including their head coach feel they need.

There’s no reading between the lines necessary when interpreting Garnett’s comments about what’s been missing, especially in a team that has blown double-digit first-half leads on their way to losses to Dallas and Detroit this week.

“Slippage man, some of the hardest games are between 30 and 55 of the season and those are the grind games and at this stage, we have to grind all these out,” Garnett said. “It’s a good time for everybody to be coming back and coming back strong.

“It’s accountability, man. I’m telling you, our defense is built off grit and effort. You either you can do it or you don’t want to do it. The man behind you having your back, that’s what it is, nothing more, nothing less than that.”

[Listen to the Celtics' world according to KG by clicking here]

While not playing, Garnett sees the second-half defensive breakdowns everyone else watching the Celtics has witnessed during their 4-5 month of January so far.

“Our defense is built off of trust,” he said. “It isn’t necessarily an assignment but it is a type of defense in which we hold each other accountable. Whatever the defense the calls for, for one person to do his job, the natural reaction is for his teammate to be there to help him and then so on and so on.” Read the rest of this entry »

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KG at practice but C’s still have work to do 01.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  While the head coach and captain were very happy to see Kevin Garnett back at practice on Tuesday afternoon, they tempered their enthusiasm with a heavy dose of reality.

The Celtics have a lot of work to do, even when their defensive MVP returns to game action.

“He looked real fluid,” Paul Pierce said. “He got up and down the court, got him the ball in the post. It’ll be a positive to get him back whenver he comes back. We don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, later in the week or whenever. But it just good to have him out there, his presence. You feel it and you see it when he’s out on the court.

“We ain’t thinking about that but definitely we know we’re going to better when Kevin comes back, obviously. He makes a better team on both ends of the court. We have to take care of responsibilities while he’s out. If he’s going to play the next game or not, we still have to go out there and turn this thing around going into the All-Star break.”

Then there’s Doc Rivers’ attitude.

“When Kevin gets back, we still have to grow as a team,” Rivers said. “The way I look at it, with him out, our growth has been stunted. When he comes back, it’ll continue our growth. It’s not the answer yet. We still have to grow as a team.”

While Garnett looked terrific, his conditioning wasn’t. And that came as no surprise to Rivers, who reiterated time and time again, KG will NOT return to game action Wednesday in Detroit.

“He actually looked really good,” Rivers added. “He played well. His conditioning was awful. That’s why I stopped [practice] because he was going well. I didn’t want to take him to the next step yet. He’ll do some running [Wednesday]. We may do something Thursday, or not, and then Friday, we’ll see.”

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KG is back… in practice at 3:15 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  Doc Rivers sounded like a parent talking to his child.

But he was talking to reporters about his star power forward who he anticipates will beg and plead to return to action on Wednesday night against Detroit.

Rivers told the assembled media Wednesday that, “No means no,” and he insists he will have the same message for Kevin Garnett after his successful return on Tuesday in practice.

The only trade-off was that Rasheed Wallace was given the day off to rest his foot and groin. But Rivers doesn’t anticipate Wallace missing the game in Detroit on Wednesday night.

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KG: ‘Felt good to be back with the guys’ at 3:06 pm ET
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WALTHAM  –  For the first time since being sidelined by a hyperextended right knee, Kevin Garnett returned to full practice on Tuesday. He took part in session, running up and down the court without a noticeable limp.

“It felt good,” Garnett said. “It felt good to be back with the guys today.”

Head coach Doc Rivers said he will not allow Garnett to play on Wednesday night in Detroit when the team plays the Pistons but rather keep him on track for a Friday return when the Celtics host Portland.

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Banged Up, Perkins Can Still See Woes Clearly 01.18.10 at 11:39 pm ET
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BOSTON – Kendrick Perkins walked into the locker room with a bandage on his cheek. The big man caught an elbow from Dirk Nowitzki while he was trying to block a shot and ended up with six stitches under his right eye.

In spite of the battle wound, Perkins could still see the Celtics’ problems clearly. They have dropped the past three games at home after giving up a 12-point lead to the Mavericks on Monday night. The Celtics are now 11-7 in Boston this season and 4-6 in their last ten games.

“We’re not putting together a full game, obviously, so we’re playing in spurts,” he said following the C’s 99-90 loss. “We’re not playing for 48 minutes. The first half was pretty great tonight. Second half, third quarter we gave up 34 points and we can’t do that.”

In addition to blowing a third quarter lead to the Mavericks, the Celtics have been outscored in the fourth quarter in their last four games. They are 1-3 during that stretch, except for a win over the Nets. Extended minutes and fatigue all come into play late in the games. So does the absence of a leader whose intensity is heightened down the stretch.

“You need Kevin [Garnett], we needed Kevin tonight,” said Perkins. “I think [the Mavericks] match up pretty well with this defense and the way Dirk stretches the court, Kevin could guard guys like this. So I guess we needed him, but we couldn’t do it.”

Even with the bandage under his eye, Perkins has a clear perspective on the Celtics’  recent woes.

“[It's been an] up and down season,” he said. “I think we’re playing in spurts during the season so some games we look like a championship team, some games we look pretty old, but we’ve just been playing in spurts.”

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Doc’s encouraging report on Sheed, KG 01.14.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is ‘hopeful’ that Rasheed Wallace can return from a sore left forefoot next Monday when the team hosts Dallas at TD Garden. Entering Thursday’s game with Chicago, Wallace had missed the last two games and was able to work out before the game.

Meanwhile, Rivers said there’s an ‘outside chance’ Kevin Garnett could return on Jan. 22 against Portland. Garnett has been out since Dec. 22 with a hyperextended right knee.

Doc Rivers said before the game that the Celtics need to continue with their ‘amazing’ focus if they’re to get through this stretch without KG and Sheed.

Rivers reiterated that guard Marquis Daniels won’t be ready until after the All-Star break following surgery on his left thumb.

Glen Davis played Thursday night with a minor injury of his own as he banged his thumb in Wednesday’s blowout win over New Jersey. The thumb was swollen following the game but he treated it and was cleared to play in the game against the Bulls.

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Inside the Game: Rajon Rondo and the art of passing 01.12.10 at 11:58 pm ET
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Last week, Rajon Rondo helped pull off one of the most memorable plays of this season — an inbound lob from Paul Pierce with 0.6 seconds left that Rondo converted for a basket to force overtime against the Heat. The scheme worked because Rondo was the most unsuspecting target on two fronts: Not only was he the smallest player on the court for the Celtics, he usually is the guy dishing, not receiving.

Rondo finds a way to get his teammates the ball ...

Rajon Rondo finds a way to get his teammates the ball ...

Rondo considers his passing skills to be a natural ability. He didn’t grow up studying point guards. He didn’t even grow up watching basketball at all. Finding the open man was just something that came to him on the court.

“I don’t know if it’s a skill. Maybe it’s just natural,” he said. “I think it’s just like a natural feel for the game. I pride myself on making guys better, so I would rather do that than score the ball.”

Rondo set the school records for most assists in a single game (31) and season (494) at Oak Hill Academy in 2004. He went on to lead the SEC in dimes (4.9 APG) as a sophomore at the University of Kentucky.

Now in his fourth season with the Celtics, Rondo is seeing the court better than ever before. He leads the Eastern Conference with 9.6 assists per game and ranks fourth among all players — behind only Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. He has already recorded 336 assists in his first 35 games of the season, closing in on his mark of 393 from the 2008 championship campaign and more than half-way to last season’s tally of 659. (The Celtics currently rank second in the league with 23.83 assists per game.)

As part of WEEI.com’s “Inside the Game” series with the Celtics, Rondo talked no-look assists, alley-oops with Kevin Garnett, the impact of Ubuntu, and the art of passing:

Wait for it: Identifying who is open is only half the battle. The key is knowing when to dish it.
“It just depends on the defense, where he’s at on the court. You can’t really predetermine when to make the pass. It just has to be like a natural instinct. Sometimes you can try to predetermine and it can go either way. It can be a turnover or it can be a good pass. When the opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to make the decision at a certain time.”

... Even if no one else sees it coming

... even if no one else sees it coming. (AP)

No formula for the no-look: Rondo has a way of baffling his defenders by making the pass they least expect.
“Maybe just practice, try [no-look passes] every once in a while. But not now. You try to be solid and not make the home run pass, but it’s just natural for me. I don’t really try to do it to get the oohs and the ahhs. It’s the play I feel I need to make at the time. I may not be able to make the simple pass and it has to be the trickery bounce pass or the no-look pass to confuse the defense.”

Dynamic dunking duo: The chemistry on the court between Rondo and Kevin Garnett makes alley-oops look effortless. But as Rondo explains, it takes a certain kind of player to pull off the dunk.
“Everybody can’t do it. There are guys in the league that can do it, but it may be four or five things — you’ve got to have the athleticism, perceptiveness, the setup, knowing when to do it, you’ve got to be a good player. Part of the reason why [Garnett] gets so many lobs is because people fear him getting the ball. If he gets the ball, he’s going to score, so they try to deny him the ball. He has great coordination, great timing. When he spins out, he loses track of the ball, so after he turns around he has to go up and find the ball and then find the rim. It’s not as easy as it looks. He does a great job at it.”

Passing off the credit: Rondo draws a direct correlation between his stats and his teammates’ offensive performances. The Celtics are ranked second in the league in field goal percentage (48.7 percent) this season, helping Rondo rack up the assists.
“You know what’s different? Guys like Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, they’re making shots. It’s pretty simple. I may be making a couple better plays, my assist-to-turnover ratio, but other than that, guys are making shots. [Kendrick Perkins] is shooting at a high level, KG is shooting at a high level, Paul went 100 percent from the 3 (twice in December). Guys are making shots. Not that we didn’t in years before, but this time I’ve got to give them all the credit, really. Without them making shots, there’s no assists.”

Ubuntu = APG: He may only be 23, but Rondo learned an important lesson early in his career. Now he wants to share that with his younger fans.
“I think that stands out the most on the court— unselfishness. It’s not necessarily ballhandling, it’s being unselfish for your teammates, sacrificing for your teammates. My situation is me giving up the ball to make somebody better. KG and Perk just defensively helping out when I may get beat off the dribble, their unselfishness just to come over and help makes me look better or maybe not look as bad as I was on defense. So, for a team to be a great team, I think you have to have a lot of people sacrifice a lot of things. We had the Big Three that came in, all leading their teams in scoring, they all had to sacrifice shots. They all did a great job of it. It’s not just me. It’s the whole team. It’s the whole team concept. That’s where Ubuntu comes in. I can go on and on about it.”

PREVIOUS ENTRIES

Inside the Game: Shelden Williams and the art of rebounding

Inside the Game: Paul Pierce and the art of versatility

Inside the Game: Kendrick Perkins on the art of shot-blocking

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